3 Pieces of advice for clarinetists-Q&A with Charles Neidich

Sep 15, 2015

Last week clarinet professor Charles Neidich was on his way to Finland and decided to stop by Copenhagen and visit the Play with a Pro headquarters. This was an opportunity that we could just not let pass by, so we gathered our forces (mostly tech guys) and set up a live stream Q&A session with Charles Neidich. The way it worked was that participants were sending their questions via email and Neidich was answering them live. Of course when talking about clarinet there is never enough time to say everything and one hour and a half was definitely too little.

For those of you who are not very familiar with Charles Neidich, he is a world renowned clarinet soloist and professor at the Juilliard School. He was born in a “musical family” and actually took his first clarinet lesson with his father and the first piano lesson with his mother. He is all over the internet if you want to know more :)

We all know it’s hard work to learn to play an instrument, and Neidich answered some of the most recurrent dilemmas  which clarinet players/students deal with on a daily basis. 

A few of the covered topics

How should one study these days?

Articulating in the high register

Reeds and the challenges with them...

Tonguing, the position of the the tongue

Relaxing your jaw and your throat



Taking an audition


..and many other subjects. The full video is available on our website here .

Some of the answers

Which kind of reeds do you recommend?

“Everybody is a little different and mouth pieces are different. There is no one reed that works for everyone. I use different reeds for different occasions. Every now and then I like to try new reeds, when I find out that something new is on the market I like to try it. I always like to keep a breast of what is going on.The biggest problem students have is that they try to find the equipment that will play for them,  but first they have to actually find their way of playing and then they will find the materials which suits them... I never travel with one reed I travel maybe with 100.”

If you are having a bad practice day or struggling to overcome some difficulties, what advice would you give to feel motivated?

“It’s very important that when you practice and hit a wall you stop, because the worst you can do is to practice your mistake. Do something else for a while. I myself if I have a difficult passage, I don’t try to master it all at once. I get it to a certain point and then I stop, I do something else . If you want to feel motivated go and play some pieces that you play very well and then come back to it.”

How should you take an audition?

“To play interestingly and smoothly and cleanly are not opposites. In other words, you should play with good intonation and good rhythm. When you play different dynamics the pitch should not go all over the place, that is what you mean by smoothly and cleanly. For an audition it is very important that you have great rhythmic stability and that is because you lack a context when you are playing. The problem people have is that they feel that playing with stability and playing musically are enemies, but they are not...”

If you are craving for more answers from Neidich, just remember that the full video is available on our website right here

We want to thank Charles Neidich for an engaging and informative session, and to all the clarinet players for participating and asking great questions. We will definitely host more of these Q&A events and try again to bring the classical music community together. 



by Felicia Gheorghe


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